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Leaders seek to trim president’s powers

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By GAKUU MATHENGE
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By JUSTUS OCHIENG’
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A cross-section of politicians is calling for a national referendum to create an expanded Executive in which the president’s powers are shared.

In separate interviews with the Nation, the politicians proposed an end to the current winner-takes-it-all system, saying, this was the only way to ensure inclusivity.

Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi, who co-chairs the Council of Governors’ (CoG) committee on constitutional review with Makueni’s Prof Kivutha Kibwana, said Kenya must rethink the version of liberal democracy inherited from the West at independence.

The CoG committee is the first institutional face of the referendum debate, although it was not clear last evening whether Mr Kiraitu’s views were personal or representative of the thinking within the CoG.

According to the governor, the system under consideration will feature both a president and a prime minister sharing executive functions, and two deputy prime ministers with functions specified in law — essentially a cross-breed of presidential and parliamentary systems.

This will arguably enhance national stability by expanding what Mr Kiraitu calls “tribal representation” in the Executive branch.

“What we call political parties are tribal organisations and cultural groups. Our problem is hypocrisy, denying our ethnic and tribal identities in public while our actions betray otherwise, rather than acknowledging and managing them. The new system will embrace the reality of Kenya,” he said.

Ford-Kenya leader and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula said the proposed system would help to prevent election rigging as a whittled-down presidency would no longer be so attractive.

“Given our ethnic fault lines and regional divisions, we need a new constitutional dispensation that dismantles the concentration of power in the presidency and disperses it to other offices so that the presidency becomes less attractive, hence not a do-or-die affair during every election,” Mr Wetang’ula said.

He urged President Kenyatta to take advantage of the current tranquillity in the country to lead the nation to a consensual referendum.

Kenyatta’s biggest legacy

“Kenyans need to agree and vote overwhelmingly for the referendum for a better direction. We don’t have to fight over it like we did in 2005. This will be his (President Kenyatta’s) biggest legacy,” he said.

Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr called for de-ethnicising of the presidency, saying, “it must be a unifying factor and a symbol of nationhood”.

“It cannot be a seat where tribes, friends or political foes arrange or agree on how the country will be governed or how resources will be distributed to suit the political persuasions of the season,” he said.

The presidency, he added, should not be a tool used every five years to balkanise or ostracise communities.

“We must exorcise and de-ethnisise the seat. Power to allocate resources should not, even remotely, appear to be at State House or Office of the President. The holder of that office must be in a position to travel the length and breadth of this nation without appearing to be seeking consent from tribal chieftains or creating an impression that the region or area is privileged to receive the head of state,” Mr Kilonzo said.

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The Makueni Senator said any clamour to be president in Kenya is currently based on privilege, entitlement and a sense of bigotry.

Orange Democratic Party (ODM) chairman John Mbadi noted that dispersing presidential powers would enhance inclusivity since “Kenya is a country which I can refer to as heterogeneous, with many communities, and winner-takes-it-all ends up dividing the nation and leading to violence every five years”.

“A pure presidential system is less accountable… We need a government where the president is the Head of State and the symbol of national unity as the premier heads the government and coordinates government functions and service delivery,” he added.

Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi said history shows that Kenyans have had a bad experience with an all-powerful presidency as “it stifles accountability and is synonymous with misuse of power”.

“Further decentralisation will enhance checks and balances,” he said.

“Power sharing will also inculcate a spirit of inclusiveness that is essential for national cohesion and sustainable development.”

Jubilee whip and Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata said immense presidential powers act as a lure for politicians to capture it, which intensifies ethnic competition.

“If one disperses powers, it is hoped there will be no incentive for competitive presidential politics. However, I disagree with this thesis because power must repose in a certain seat, call it prime minister or whatever, and this will lure ethnic politics as well,” Mr Kang’ata said.

“Even parliamentary democracies are driven by ethnicity. Ethnically-divided societies employ two remedies — consociational and centripetal models. The first one is essentially entrenched in power echelons, a grand coalition of all key parties like in Kenya between 2007-2013, while the second gives politicians an incentive to moderate,” Mr Kang’ata noted.

He said the Constitution provides that for one to win a presidential election, one must get 50 per cent plus one of the votes, together with at least 25 per cent of votes cast in at least half of all counties.

“The idea is that the winner must get cross-ethnic support, but the threshold is too low; a coalition of two or three major ethnic groups can achieve it, to the exclusion of the rest,” he said.

Kanu Secretary-General Nick Salat, Tongaren MP Eseli Simiyu and Tiaty MP William Kamket all agreed that dispersing presidential powers will enhance inclusivity.

“Our history, every five years, is written with glaring mistakes on how much focus is placed on presidency,” Mr Salat said.

“People have lost lives and we want to end this do-or-die attitude by those seeking the presidency. So, for me, anything that will let Kenyans live normal, uninterrupted lives is welcome.”

Power, he noted, needs to be spread out for the good of the nation as this will make “a union of the country’s communities”.

“We must examine when the rains started beating us and remedy it. We need to ensure real power belongs to the people and not an individual,” Mr Salat said.

Mr Simiyu, like the rest, noted that stripping the presidency of its immense power “will remove the problem of extreme ethnicity”.



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General

Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –

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Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

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Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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